Local Dancers Take Top Prizes at National Championships

Editor | SantaFe.com - March 4, 2013

Irish music and dance performance by award-winning Belisama Irish Dance at The Lensic

From a Belisama Irish Dance press release...

Photo: Kate Russell

Belisama Irish Dance traveled to Washington, D.C. in February to compete in the Cumann Rince Náisiúnta North American Irish Dance Championships. Fifteen Belisama dancers competed over three days, and all 15 won or placed in their solo dances. Top winners include Kyle Partin, who won the first-place award at Mean Ghrad, and Shannon Kossmann, Celia Kessler, and Elaina Bossert, who all took first place in their Ard Ghrad Award and became Open Champions in their respective age groups. 

Kossmann also won first place in the Championship for her age group. Skye McDiarmid,Deena Rice and Sydney Schoonover placed highly as well. The dancers were featured on the front page of this Sunday's Santa Fe New Mexican for their wins. Six Belisama dancers in all are qualified to compete in the World Open Championships in Wexford, Ireland, in June 2013.

Other Belisama dancers who placed in their solo dances and awards are: Kate Schillo, Sofia Bomse, Tovah Strong, Emma Sheppard and Larissa Foy of Santa Fe, and Darcy Turin, Lauren Partin and Orli Schlacter of Los Alamos.

New Mexicans can see all of Belisama’s National Championship dancers perform live in their 7th annual ‘Rhythm of Fire’ St. Patrick's Day concert 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 15, 2013 at The Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe. One night only! The performance also features live Irish music. ‘Rhythm of Fire’ will co-star Michael Patrick Gallagher, former World Champion and lead of Riverdance.

Belisama Artistic Director Adrienne Bellis said, “We are thrilled to be performing at The Lensic in March. It is ‘the place to be’ in Santa Fe to see a great show, and it's exciting to be included in that energy! It's also part of a well-known circuit of beautifully restored small theaters in the Southwest that I've always wanted to explore with the company—there’s something about having the experience of dancing in such a historic setting that is really special.”

What audience members are saying...

“What a fantastic job! ‘Rhythm of Fire’ exceeded my already high expectations. Not just great dancing and music, but an air of absolute joy and enthusiasm. Bravissimo!”
-Jim Watley

“The performance was absolutely wonderful. We loved the fiddling, and were so impressed by the dancing and singing. It was evident how happy all the performers were: not just stage smiles, but true joy!”
-The Farmer Family

“The show was simply amazing, so beautiful (and the singing!). The dancers and live music were both incredible.”
-Rayna Dineen

“We enjoyed ‘Rhythm of Fire’ so much! Belisama did an amazing job; there is so much talent and creativity in the group, and we love the sense of community the company creates.”
-The Price Family

Cumann Rince Náisiúnta (CRN) is widely known as a traditional dance organization which has successfully maintained the integrity of traditional Irish dances while also actively encouraging the development of new and innovative Irish dance. Ffounded in 1982, the organization offers Irish dancing competitions with an Open Platform to compete in Feiseanna (Gaelic dance). CRN is governed by an Executive Committee elected by its members, and offers competition in five levels of dance with consideration and focus on the developmental level of students and their capacity to execute new work in solo dances.

Belisama Irish Dance Company features 14 local dancers from Santa Fe and Los Alamos, including eight regional, national and open champions.  The company performed with Lúnasa at The Lensic in Santa Fe in November 2012.  

Adrienne Bellis, artistic director of Belisama Irish Dance, has training in jazz dance and music performance and was first introduced to Irish dance in California at the Claddagh School of Irish Dance.  She is a national champion as part of an eight-hand ceili team. Her students have performed with artists such as Trinity Irish Dance Company, Lúnasa, Natalie MacMaster, Gaelic Storm, and Eileen Ivers and are recognized as national and regional champions as well as up-and-coming choreographers. Bellis is also a professional singer.

Belisama (bel-i-SAH-ma) is a Celtic goddess recognized in Romano-Gaulish inscriptions which equate her with the Roman goddess Minerva. The name translates as ‘summer bright;’ Belisama’s consort Belenus is God of the Sun, and she shares many attributes with him. Belisama is also associated with wisdom, healing, forge, and craft.

Internationally award-winning Belisama Irish Dance Company presents the 7th Annual ‘Rhythm of Fire’ St. Patrick's Day performance Friday, March 15 at 7:30 p.m. at The Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe.  One night only! Tickets are $20 at www.ticketssantafe.org or 505-988-1234 (discounts available).  The box office and theater are located at 211 West San Francisco Street.  The performance features live music, regional championship and top ten world finalist Irish dancers. Also starring Michael Patrick Gallagher of Riverdance. Call Belisama at 505-670-1325 or visit www.belisamadance.com for more information.